Supreme Court blocks Texas social media law

Supreme Court blocks Texas social media law

A divided Court has blocked a Texas law that was championed conservatively. It aimed to prevent social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter from censoring users based their views. The court voted in unusually 5-4 alignment Tuesday to suspend the Texas law while a lawsuit is pending in lower courts.

Chief justice John Roberts, Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett voted in favor of the emergency request by two technology industry groups, who challenged the law at federal court.

The majority did not explain its decision, as is usual in emergency cases on what is known informally as the court’s shadow docket. “

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch would have allowed the law to remain in effect.

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In dissent, Alito wrote, “Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news. It’s unclear how the court’s previous First Amendment cases, many which date back to the internet age, can be applied to Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms. Alito wrote in an opinion that was joined by fellow conservatives Thomas, Gorsuch, but not Kagan.

The order follows a ruling last week by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a similar Florida law violates the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections.

Republican elected officials in several states have backed laws like those enacted in Florida and Texas that sought to portray social media companies as generally liberal in outlook and hostile to ideas outside of that viewpoint, especially from the political right.

The Texas law was initially blocked in the district court, but was then approved by a panel from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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